The Tahawus Cloudsplitter, a periodical magazine that recorded life in the village and mines is an historical treasure. It was “published by the MacIntyre Development of the Titanium Division, National Lead Company, Tahawus, New York in the interest of the employees and their families”. An editorial found in the first Cloudsplitter, December 1943, stated “the Cloudsplitter is an employee publication established for the benefit, enjoyment and interest of all…. Its title Cloudsplitter endeavors to simulate Mt. Tahawus (now known as Mt. Marcy) by splitting the clouds of our personal life.” The editorial further states “Nothing will be published that does not first obtain the company management’s approval….The format and content will be continually adjusted according to the likes and dislikes of readers and contributors. Contributions of articles will be welcomed from all—poems to cook recipes, health suggestions, company policy articles, celebration of employee service awards, birthdays, marriages, civic group activities, for sale or trade items, lost and found and special blocks devoted to department news at the mill, crusher, shop, mine, and village.” An editorial in December 1943 by Manager Otto Herres provided congratulations on the creation of the publication and stated “The Cloudsplitter is a timely employee magazine.”
A Tahawus Community Directory, listing family name and household location, was first published in the November 1947 issue, and periodically thereafter. Also in that issue was an explanation of the publication’s name. A contest had been held and “after all names were considered TAHAWUS-CLOUDSPLITTER was chosen. We beg forgiveness of those critics who remind us that Tahawus-Cloudsplitter is a redundancy. It is just that – since either word translated (it comes from an Indian dialect) comes out to mean the same thing. Cloudsplitter is the Indian name for Mt. Marcy (which rises on our horizon). The Indians who hunted in this territory very poetically called Marcy “Tahawus”. “Cloudsplitter” was the name chosen for the original plant paper. We like both words.”
The Tahawus Cloudsplitter became a major news outlet and assisted the many civic groups in promoting and communicating their activities and interests. Numerous community members served as reporters. Publication in the 1940s was at times sporadic and during the war and post-war years, 1944-46, the company and village news releases were very limited. Plant Manager, George Wunder commented, in a December 1949 Tahawus Cloudsplitter editorial: “We wish to welcome Cloudsplitter once again to our community.”
The 1947-1949 issues were monthly, with the exception of several months, and beginning in December 1949, the Tahawus Cloudsplitter was available on a regular schedule. Space was allocated in every issue for each department at the mine, church news, the YMCA, sports, the Women’s Club, library, fire department, as well as other events, such as free French and English classes and the formation of the Tahawus Flying Club.
The Ticonderoga Sentinel called it a “right interesting, newsy mimeographed sheet.” Reporter Harry Coonrod of The Valley News said, “We found a newspaper, the Tahawus Cloudsplitter, an interesting mimeographed periodical containing everything that goes on in this amazing community.” A letter from John G. Hall, Plant Manager, in the December 1955 issue stated “The Cloudsplitter staff and other employees who have so generously given of their time and effort during the year are to be congratulated. Cloudsplitter fills a unique part in our community and in our plant and its success is entirely due to the efforts put forth by those who contribute their time to its publication.”
Eugene (Gene) O’Connor, who began duties as secretary to the plant manager on July 21, 1941, provided the stability behind publication of the Tahawus Cloudsplitter. It was because of his perseverance and labor that the Tahawus Cloudsplitter was born in December 1943 and continued to record and preserve the history of Tahawus for future generations. A Gene O’Connor story from the Summer 1956 issue is worth repeating. Gene recalled his experience with the first Tahawus Cloudsplitter in December 1943. “It will always be for me the day the editor almost committed suicide. Appointed as co-editor on the assumption that I was more familiar with the mimeograph machine than he (which was true), I found myself with more pressing duties and had to leave mimeographing to the editor. Above Mr. Herres’s dictation, I became aware of the erratic rattle of the machine—then silence—a grunt and a low moan. I ran out to the outer office the moment I was free and there witnessed a sight I will never forget. There, with his head bound to the mimeograph, stood the editor, one hand grasping a half-smoked cigar, the other tugging at his necktie which in an unguarded moment had caught and wound one revolution around the drum. He could neither put the cigar down nor extricate himself and thus he stood “nose to nose” with the inked drum, groaning and struggling. By reversing the drum, which he had locked in his terror, I was able to withdraw a very much inked tie and thus save the editor from becoming his very first issue. Although the master copy was ruined with cigar ashes and florid tie, we got the first issue of Cloudsplitter out on time.”
Alan Stanley was Editor-in-Chief from the Tahawus Cloudsplitter’s second inception in October 1947 until May of 1950 when Clyde Bingham assumed editorial duties until August 1951. Ed Briggs then served as editor until June 1957; Bob Craig held the position until December 1965. Gene O’Connor was the final editor of the Tahawus Cloudsplitter from January 1966. Two-month issues were published from January-February 1966 until termination of the magazine in the summer of 1971. Gene O’Connor, known as “Dean of the Cloudsplitter”, was editor and major contributor to the special 25th Anniversary issue, a retrospective featuring “The Story of MacIntyre Development” from 1826 with photographs of the mines and village through the years. Also included were congratulatory letters from all levels of National Lead Company management on MacIntyre’s 25th Anniversary date, July 4, 1967.
The Tahawus Cloudsplitters of the 1940s displayed the expert art work of Sune Ericson, Betty Ann Sell, Mrs. E. Spokes, and Mike Clemovich, as well as exceptional production work of folks like Eva Burke. A notice in the December 1949 issue stated “Wanted – an artist to do black and white sketches to enliven Cloudsplitter”. The first photos appeared in the December 1949 issue and in the early 1950s the photography skills of Walter Chapman, Ray Murdie, Jack McBride, Camille DenDooven, and William VanMeter were featured. Stan LaLonde was added as a photographer in December 1955 and served in this capacity until termination of the Tahawus Cloudsplitter in the summer of 1971. The collection of Tahawus Cloudsplitter photographs forms an impressive archive of daily life in Tahawus, for both company and community.
- From Tahawus Memories 1941-1963, The story of a unique Adirondack hometown by Leonard A. Gereau. Profits benefit a legacy scholarship fund.
For information www.tahawuslegacyscholarship.com
Collection owner: Tahawus Cloudsplitter